New York trio Parts & Labor turned the instrumental album
Groundswell (JMZ, 2003) into a diligent parade of post-rock and
noise-rock digressions, mostly highlighted by the electronic noises of Dan Friel.
intense atonal jamming and stormy drumming Autopilot and Groundswell
Cream-like blues-rock TB Strut
Mike Burke For President is the exact opposite, a festive romp halfway between surf music and Devo
festive dissonant explosive square dance Parts & Labor
folkish dance Happy New Year
sinister and gloomy Intervention
prog-rock expressionism Broken Man Going To Work
After Rise Rise Rise (Narnack, 2003), a split with
containing seven new songs, and the six-song EP Escapers One (Broklyn Beats, 2006),
the second album, Stay Afraid (2006), the first one featuring
drummer Chris Weingarten, invested more in the melodies (and in the singing)
without sacrificing the noise.
If it weren't for the massive guitar distortion,
A Great Divide would be a poppy ditty (with just a tad of Teutonic
Drastic Measures is mainstream punk-pop, despite
a guitar intro that mimics a volcanic eruption and a rude organ riff.
The attention to the melody does not detract from the visceral instrumental
parts, as the extreme Death proves.
It's another album overflowing with energy and noise, except that this time
it is placed at the service of a (sellable) refrain.
The results are sometimes awkward, and one gets the impression that songs such
as A Pleasant Stay would do a lot better without the vocals
(as the vibrant instrumental Repair proves),
but the band has plenty of creative skills to shape each and every song in
unpredictable manners, making (in particular) the beginning and the ending
real audio delights.
That balance yielded a more mature sound on
Mapmaker (Jagjaguwar, 2007).
If Visions of Repair
and King Of The Hill
are shamelessly arena-poppy (but still damaged by
innumerable guitar and keyboard oddities),
Fractured Skies is fueled by a drum'n'bass pattern turning into motorik
gallop, while a psychedelic-tinged choir responds to the singer's anthemic
and Unexplosions could be a vintage piece of Merseybeat if it weren't
attached to a burst of supersonic rockabilly.
The band engages in plenty of unorthodox behavior:
the noisy Brighter Days,
the psychedelic Long Way Down,
the deranged Ghosts Will Burn, etc.
When that instinct hits on a viral idea, the results are spectacular:
the breathless, majestic, square dance The Gold We're Digging
and the irresistible merry-go-round of Fake Rain.
The rhythm is relentlessly breakneck.
This time the vocals (still the weakest element of the equation) do not hurt.
The mini-album Escapers Two (Ace Fu, 2008) contained
51 songs in under 30 minutes.
Relegating the noise to the background,
the first album with new drummer Joe Wong and guitarist Sarah Lipstate,
boasted more organic and more elegant constructs that revisited aesthetic
principles of avantgarde rock in a less traumatic manner,
from the mournful The Ceasing Now to the rousing Satellites.
Sarah Lipstate was also active as Noveller, sculpting ambient music for
treated guitar on
Paint On The Shadows (No Fun, 2009) and
Red Rainbows (No Fun Productions, 2009).
Parts & Labor shifted the emphasis of their sound towards the
distorted swirling keyboard riffs on
Constant Future (2011). These (and the booming drums)
are the real protagonists of the
otherwise trivial and lifeless songs.
Pure Annihilation and
Constant Future save the day.
Invisible Things, the duo of US Maple's guitarist Mark Shippy and Parts & Labor's drummer Jim Sykes, debuted with the brainy post-rock abstractions of Home Is The Sun (Porter Records, 2012).
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